REFLECTION: Convert study into prayer PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 30 March 2015 13:31



With all the graduation rites these days for which I have to say the baccalaureate Mass, I cannot help but remind the graduating students and others that our formation never ends, that study should be a constant attitude and habit to have rather than just a task to do at a given moment, and that study should be converted to prayer.

This is actually good news rather than some kind of brick a preachy priest wants to unload on them. Of course, it’s good news that commands a certain price. But that’s precisely what makes that good news good. It has to be worked for. It has to be earned.

Study is a human necessity that has to be taken seriously and nourished constantly. We should not just be casual about it. That’s because study holds the key for us to understand things, to contribute to the common good, and most especially, to connect us with everybody else, and ultimately with God.

Study unlocks for us the secrets of nature in all its aspects. It makes us explore the many facets of life and the world that we often ignore. Let’s remember that as image and likeness of God, we are meant to know things as much as possible. There’s actually no limit to what we can possibly know through our study.

Study enables us to fulfil our duty, together with God our Creator, as stewards of our earthly goods and temporal affairs. In fact, it enhances our sense of freedom and responsibility, since these aspects of our life depend a lot on what we know.

In a way, study keeps and enriches our humanity. Without it, we can start to deface our own nature and our sense of what is true and not true, what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. Without it, we expose ourselves to many avoidable dangers in life.

We can fall, for example, to ignorance and confusion, to indifference to our duties and the needs of others and the world in general. We can start to be sloppy in our work and to resort to cheating and deception just to get by. There are many other dangers down the line.

We should never think that we have studied enough, because the simple truth is that we can never study enough! How can we say that we have studied enough when there will always be things that are new and mysterious and always changing, even if there also are things that are old and do not and should not change?

Even with respect to the old things, we will always be in need of renewing and refreshing our understanding of them. We should never be self-satisfied with what we already know and even what we have mastered. They can always be enriched and updated, made to adapt and impact on the new and changing environments.

We have to make sure that our study should not simply be reduced to a purely intellectual operation. It has to be motivated and oriented toward love—love for God and love for others. Otherwise, our study would be a sure source of pride, vanity and other anomalies like greed, envy, lust, etc. It would be an exercise of self-centeredness.

Study somehow should be for us a form of prayer. This can be done if it is motivated precisely by love for God and neighbour. Its technical requirements are no obstacles to prayer, since prayer, by its nature, can be expressed by any kind of human activity, including the very menial ones, as long as the motive is love of God and neighbour.

The different languages and methodologies involved in the study of the different arts and sciences are not incompatible with developing an intimate relation with God and others, since after all, all these languages and methodologies, no matter how technical and abstruse, come in the end from God and are part of God’s will for us.

We should overcome the baseless idea that studying technical things, as in the arts and the sciences, cannot be considered as prayer. This is an idea that needs to be exploded, because it happens to affect a great majority of the people

The mundane, the material and temporal things of our life, while enjoying a certain autonomy, are never outside of God’s providence. Everything is part of God’s providence and can be made use of to connect us to God and to others as, in fact, they should.

We may have to use certain techniques and devices to help us convert our study into prayer.